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FAITH AS IT RELATES TO A BALANCED EXPECTATION FROM GOD- For us as the believers, the outbreak of COVID-19 and other worldwide calamities, is more and more bringing certain critical questions to the forefront. We can be sure that one of the main questions being asked is the how do we reconcile the reality of our pain and suffering, with our faith.
Over the past few decades many believers embraced a teaching called the "Word of faith, name it claim it" doctrine. Those who taught this doctrine told the believers that they were authorized by God to speak their blessings into existence. As far as sickness they were given certain verses to quote, which when spoken in faith, supposedly created the very conditions, cited in that particular verse. Some very notable verses, being the following, "
5 Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; 6 Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. 7 A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.8 Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked. 9 Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; 10 There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. Psalm 91:5-9.
When verses such as these are combind with the "name it claim it " doctrines, some believers have asked, if the wearing of a mask, a sigh of faith or fear. During the pandemic, even the national news media outlets noted the fact that “people of faith” who named and claimed perfect health were getting sick and dying like everyone else. It was noted that included in this grouping were ministers and church leaders, who for years proclaimed a message which stated, “name it, claim it, and it’s yours.
Within many churches troubling questions have arisen, in regards to faith and sickness. This is especially true among those believers who have been consistently taught, that they can speak a word of faith, which will hinder, sickness and suffering from coming their way. What is so troubling is that many of the ministers who have taught this doctrine, and those who embraced it, have themselves have been by the very things they said (by faith) would not come upon them.
We in no way mention this as a means by which to mock or ridicule these individuals. I too have believed God for things that did not come to pass or manifest themselves in the way I had believed they would.
Over the past few decades, many Christian bookshelves became filled with books, which proclaimed the power of faith. Many of these books which were written by nationally known ministers, explained how the believers can achieve success.
These books offered “secrets” on how to think and practice ones faith in which assured health, wealth and overall victory: that one would be a “winner” and reach their goals.
If one were to Tune into any Christian TV channel, they would find messages which proclaimed the bountifulness, that properly exercised faith brings. These message also proclaimed that health, wealth, and overall prosperity, was the right of every believer. The premise being that God always wants the believers to be healthy and wealthy. The following words which were pinned by John, was often quoted as proof. “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.” 3nd Jn 1:2.
In many church circles today, it is not enough to be born again (saved), but modern day, in the know believers are expected to have all of the amenities, of modern day covenant salvation. These amenities includes, but are not limited to items such as, a big house, a nice car, lots of cash, a healthy body, positive marital and family relationships etc. Many are being taught, that perfect health, and prosperity (being rich) is a major part of God's covenant promises for all believers.
in explaining to the believers why were they to accept nothing less, that perfect health, and abundant wealth, they were told it is their right. Believers are told they have a right to expect to prosper, because God has always dealt with mankind through the usage of covenants and that he is legally bound by His New Covenant to bestow these blessings upon all Christians.
This doctrine has attracted millions of followers, who have in turn generated millions and millions of dollars in revenues, for some of its most eminent proclaimers. Those who preach the prosperity gospel, say, any minister or ministry, which says God permits his children to be poor, sick, and go through all manner of trials, is in error and a hindrance to the body of Christ.
One well known preacher of prosperity said "for a Pastor or anyone to drive a Chevrolet instead of a luxury car isn't being humble, but is being ignorant of God's "law of prosperity."
A very common and popular message today for many believers is the message of “Taking It All Back.” Believers are told that Satan's main goal is to steal their health, wealth and prosperity. Therefore they are encouraged to use their faith to aggressively fight back and take back what the adversary has stolen and continually seeks to steal.
This popular message points out the fact that God has always dealt with mankind through the usage of covenants and that he is legally bound by the New Covenant of New Testament to bestow blessings of prosperity upon all Christians.
Most believers today have been conditioned to envision that the main items Satan seeks to rob and steal from us, is in the realm of prosperity in the natural realm. Compare
Today, many teach a blanket all inclusive doctrine of health and riches for every believer. This so called “right to health and prosperity” is labeled as being part of the salvational covenant package for every born again believer.
Believers are told they should by faith name and claim their salvation, and then the health and prosperity which comes along with it. Those who teach this doctrine, “salvation equals health and wealth,” point back to the promises God made to the Hebrews as proof, as outlined in, Deuteronomy 28:1-12.
And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God. Blessed shalt thou be in the city, and blessed shalt thou be in the field. Blessed shall be thy basket and thy store.
Blessed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and blessed shalt thou be when thou goest out. *11 And the LORD shall make thee plenteous in goods. And thou shalt lend unto many nations, and thou shalt not borrow. And the LORD shall make thee the head, and not the tail; and thou shalt be above only, and thou shalt not be beneath; Deut 28.
It is in this chapter that some say that the covenant promises to the believers is outlined. They say that Included in this covenant packet is health and overall prosperity.
Believers are told that they have the covenant right to make the promises of Deuteronomy 28, a reality by speaking them into existence. The following words of Christ are quoted as proof. Compare. “Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Matt 18:18-20 .
“For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.” MK 11:23-24).
When it comes to matters such as health, wealth, and relationships, Believers are told that it’s a matter of faith and positive confession. Today many believers have been led to believe that their whole fate is tied up in the words thy speak. This doctrine became so engrained in the minds of many believers, that a commonly quoted phrased was coined: When it came to items such as sickness, lack of finances, troubled relationships, etc, Believers were to, "DON'T CLAIM IT."
Kenneth Copeland is a nationally known minister who teaches this doctrine. He explains it this way, "What you are saying is exactly what you are getting now. If you are living in poverty and lack and want, change what you are saying. … The powerful force of the spiritual world that creates the circumstances around us is controlled by the words of the mouth." (Copeland, Laws, 98).
According to those who teach the “name it claim it doctrine” God has given the believers the ability to command Him. They say that God has obligated Himself to His word in such a way, that when we speak His word back to Him, he’s obligated to fulfill His promises. The verse in scripture that if often quoted as proof is found in the book of Isaiah. “Thus saith the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker: Ask Me of things to come concerning My sons, and concerning the work of My hands command ye Me.” Isaiah 45:11.
Clete Hux tells us, “Word-Faith teachers claim that God operates by spiritual law and is obliged to obey the faith-filled commands and desires of believers."
According to those who teach the WOF doctrine, "Positively confessing something is the very first step to getting what is wanted (i.e., healing, a luxury home, someone to marry, etc.)."
They further explain that "God's Word conceived in the heart, then formed with the tongue and spoken out of the mouth becomes a spiritual force releasing the ability of God." (Capps, Dynamic, 33).
The WOF movement emphatically states that sickness should never be accepted or tolerated in the life of the believer. One of the main verses quoted as proof is “Isaiah 53:5, "But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.“ One ministers explains it this way, “You have a divine "Bill of Rights." From receiving answers to prayer to raising the dead, God has set aside for you a wonderful inheritance.
There is no denying the fact that we should expect for God. In fact the apostle Paul tells us we dishonor God when we don’t by faith believe on Him, and expect from him. 6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. Heb 11:6. The issue at hand is not whether or not we should have faith in God to the point of expecting from him: The real issue is comprehending the proper balance between God's sovereignty, our faith, and just exactly how the two are to be viewed.
The Bible clearly tells us that we must have faith in God, if we are to be pleasing in His sight. We are also promised that God will greatly bless those who trust and obey Him. Many believers came to believe that their faith and obedience, would serve as an insurance (assurance) policy. In the sense that they would be exempted from much of life's’ pain and suffering.
Yet in spite of their expressions and confessions of faith, for many, their turmoil and strife remains. Many found that their faith did not stop the physical abuse on the part of their spouse.
Others came to realize that naming and claiming their child for Christ, did not stop their troubled child from continuing down the wrong path. Some claimed perfect health for themselves or a loved one, yet frail health still remains. Others who when they were younger named and claimed perfect health, now are finding in old age, they are susceptible to the ailments as everyone else.
Thus they are experiencing, hair loss, having to wear glasses due to bad eyesight, high blood pressure, arthritis, Alzheimer's etc. In the economic climate we are facing today, many are facing troubling times financially. Included in this group are many sincere believers.
Some believers who gave themselves, their pocket book, and their faith completely over to the doctrine of health and prosperity are now expressing feelings of disillusionment. Did God fail their faith, Or did their faith fail God??
The reality is that things don’t always work out as you had hoped. As a result you may at times may find yourself coping with disillusionment, despair and discouragement. Shattered dreams at times can turn into painful reoccurring nightmares. Many become frustrated or disillusioned when they feel their prayers concerning healing, prosperity, and divine protection, seems to have gone unanswered. (compare below).
A major motivator for me in doing this book, are the events which took place in the life of a dear sister in Christ, who eventually fell away from the faith. This particular sister and her family began to fellowship at a church, that is commonly known as a “name it, claim it” assembly. This was during the 80s when these ministries were really taking off.
It’s not that I was then or even now am opposed to believing God for health, wealth or overall prosperity. But back then it did trouble me when I heard how the message was being presented. This particular sister began to fellowship at a ministry, which proclaimed themselves to be “The church of the take back.” Their stated goal was to instruct believers in regards to how best take back what Satan had stolen from them.
They explained to her that Satan had came and stolen the things that rightly belonged to her. They explained to her that the words of Christ declared this to be true. The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. Jn 10;10.
This particular ministry taught this dear sister, that she could by faith and a positive confession, activate a “take back” process by which she could obtain health, wealth, and prosperity. She was told that once she did so, trials, sickness and poverty, would be removed. She was also promised that as long as she continued to walk in the right level of faith, and faithfully sowed her finances into the ministry, everything about her would be blessed. She being a woman of faith, whole heartily accepted this doctrine and sought to walk in it.
During this time her daughter who was in her teens came down with a very devastating illness. Having fully accepted the doctrine of perfect health by way of faith, she encouraged her daughter to declare herself healed. Encouraged by the faith of her mother, the young woman also fully embraced the same approach of faith. Thus both she and her daughter were now fully expecting the healing to manifest itself. Unfortunately it did not work out as named and claimed, but only got worse. Her daughter finally succumbed to her sickness and died. Devastated by these events, yet desiring clarity as to what happened, she sought answers, from the ministers at her church.
In her desire to grasp what had gone wrong she looked to the ministers for clarification. They indicated to her that, either she was not using her faith properly, or she had not made the right confession of faith. Thus she carried the weight of this conclusion around with her. She soon became disillusioned and discouraged, she left that church. And to date simply stays home.
Dr. Gordon Fee, tells us What makes exposing the error of the WOF There are a lot of hurt and confused individuals, when it comes to this doctrine and why it in many cases it does not always work as advertised. What makes this doctrine so illusive, stems from the fact when it seemingly does not work, you can always blame the victim.
Thus when the negative things which commonly befalls us all as humans occur in the lives of the believer, you can always blame the victim. For example when believers face adversity, debt, illness, etc, it is because they are unable to purge the mind of negative thoughts, or are unable to believe enough to receive their desires.
This can create a great deal of emotional trauma on the part of those who are sincerely trying to apply the name it claim it doctrine to their lives. And what about the healthy part of the prosperity gospel? Many of those who teach this doctrine have been affected by the same sicknesses which affect many of us.” *(this is not to rejoice in their sickness, but rather to bring attention to the fact that any of us can be impacted by the trials which is common to all men).
SICKNESS? Since the accident I have claimed perfect health and healing. Yet nine year later I’m still not healed , some say it’s a lack of faith. How can this be when I know I have believed God with all my heart? I am not alone, many of the friends I made at the rehab center, have the same testimony of faith and positive confession.
Like myself they are still in their wheelchairs. Talk is cheap!! For all the WOF ministers who constantly lay the blame at my feet (not enough faith, and right confessions of faith), I wonder how many of them would have been up out of this chair if they where in my position??
MY WEIGHT ISSUE? I spoke a word of faith over my weight issues. I honestly believed that i would not have this problem anymore.
I was told that faith without works is dead. therefore for the past three years I have been on an aggressive diet and exercise program. but I am still having problems with my weight.
I was told that God can’t lie, so the problem is with me. some say there is either a problem with my faith, or the way I confess it. How can this be, when I have done all they told me to do??
THE IMPACT OF OLD AGE?-- Years ago when I first came to Christ, I was taught that I could by faith, lay claim to perfect health. Thus I decreed by faith that I would walk in perfect health, and no illness or frailty would come near my door. But I'm now wearing dentures, using a cane, wearing glasses and going bald. just like many others I know.
Some of the more recent and younger converts, at my church tell me I must not accept my present condition, to do so is a lack of faith. They tell me to ignore what’s happening in my body, and decree that I am in perfect health. How ironic, I used to tell those who were in my present condition the same thing.
In spite of my condition I still believe, but if the truth be told my body is not cooperating. In spite of my profession of faith things are deteriorating. I'm now wearing dentures, I can’t see without my glasses, I’m going bald, and need this cane to walk. In fact these same things have happened to the ministers who taught me about my covenant rights.
CONTINUAL ABUSE?--I was taught to speak a word of faith over my marriage and things would change for the better. Two years later I still have faith, even though he has gotten even more angrier and violent. I keep confessing deliverance for him. but he shows no interest in God at all.
Can my profession of faith force God on him and a godly way of life that he clearly does not want? How much of this depends of his right to choose, and how much of this depends on my faith? some say I need more patience and faith. I know I have both. there is more to this story than I am being told.
MY FINANCES? Sure I am able to pay my bills, for which I am grateful, but I was told I would be very rich. I was told that if I sowed into certain ministries, and by faith claimed financial prosperity, I would become rich. My tithes and offerings to these various ministries, was not just so I would get rich. I gave because I believe in supporting ministry. I love God and wanted to honor him.
I gave of my resources faithfully and constantly made my profession of faith. While it’s true that God has made ways for me financially: The promised abundant riches have not materialized. Years later after I and many others have embraced and applied the doctrines of prosperity: Our church parking lot is still not full of Bentleys and Rolls Royces, (except for the reserved parking space marked pastor and first lady). Of course the ministers of prosperity promise me the money is still on the way.
BROKEN HOME, RELATIONSHIPS? How can this be? Our divorce has been finalized, He said he did not want me or my God. This is not how this was supposed to turn out. My minister and other church members, told me to stand on the word, and God would not allow this to happen.
I constantly spoke a word of faith over my marriage and family, I sought to be a virtuous wife, I showed him love, respect and emotional support. Yet he walked out on me for another woman.
TROUBLED KIDS, AND GETTING WORSE?? As for our kids, Over the years mu husband and I have stood firmly on the word on their behalf. We brought my them up in church. And set a godly example in front of them. Out of our five kids two of them got saved and are living godly lives. It’s the other three that causes us concern.
Our oldest son, came out gay, and was upset that we would not attend his same sex union ceremony. Our youngest son is continually abusing drugs, and is in and out of jail.
Our youngest daughter refuses to help out around the house, and is hanging with the wrong crowd. She seems to think that the world owes her. The older these three get the worse they get. This is not what I named and claimed. Is it me? is it my faith? or is it their own life choices which is the problem??
FAITH AND EXPECTATION--OBTAINING A PROPER UNDERSTANDING
There are many believers who have tried to do everything, they were told to do by faith. They have made every positive confession, given of their financial resources by faith, and cast out every negative thought they possible could. Yet their eyesight is still bad, their wallet still lean, and their family is still troubled. Over a period of time many of the followers of the WOF movement, come to realize that it simply does not work as prescribed.
Not only this, but if they are really honest, they find that many who teach this doctrine, also began to put on glasses because of failing eyesight. They find out that many of those who teach the WOF doctrine and their loved ones end up going to the hospital for medical treatment like most of the rest of us, etc.
On their website. (the christianexpositor.org), ask the following question. “What happens to the victims - those who lose "Faith in Faith"? “In counseling those who have been caught up in the Word-Faith doctrines and then have been disillusioned, one finds many who have difficulty breaking free of these teachings. A consistent pattern of behavior can be observed in these people.
First, as with all cultic teachings, no one has ever come up with this teaching through Bible study alone. People generally find it through the influence of Word-Faith churches and the literature, tapes and seminars which originally promulgated from the USA.
At this level, strong indoctrination takes place. It is through the literature and seminars that people become "positive confessors." At this point, no negatives are allowed. God wants you healthy, wealthy, and wise. Sickness, poverty, and want are signs of spiritual weakness. If something does not go right, lack of faith is at fault.
People have died or lost their children because they denied the reality of sickness and were persuaded not to take medical advice but to rely on this "faith in faith!" Once faced with this, they either admit that the Word-Faith teachings are fallacious and throw themselves into the arms of a loving, sovereign God, or they begin to consciously deny reality”
There are many believers today worldwide who don’t have much money and other resources. As many of us can attest things don’t always work out as we had by faith hoped they would. Financial blessings did not manifest themselves, as expected. Certain loved ones (a spouse, a child, etc) did not come to Christ as believed for. Certain sicknesses did not leave, and in some cases death came instead of healing.
It’s at those times when our adversary seeks to convince us to throw our faith away, DON’T YOU DO IT!! God wants you to fight back, the first step is to fight to hold on to your faith. We dedicate this book to all of our sisters and brothers in the faith. Even though things may be rough right now, hold on These things are but for a moment. Compare these words of Paul.
Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was necessary for me to write unto you, and exhort you that you should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. Jude 1:3.
While it is true that a lack of faith or continuing to live a sinful lifestyle can hinder our prayer request before God. For some believers this is not always the case. There those believers who have honestly sought to live a life which is pleasing in God’s sight, and expressed confident faith in the promises, yet they find themselves none the less enduring sickness and other hardships.
There are some who are so adamant in the name it claim it doctrine they seek to promote, that when believers are continually going through hardship, they blame the victim. They are told that it is because they are unable to purge their minds of negative thoughts, or are unable to believe enough to receive their blessing. This can create a great deal of emotional trauma on the part of the believer. This is especially true for those believers who have earnestly tried to adhere to the word of faith teachings.
There are certain critical questions that need to be addressed in regards to faith, prosperity, pain, and suffering. Through out the rest of this study we will address the items we list below. Compare
1. Trials?— Is it true that many of the trials I endure, come about as a result of a lack of faith or a lack of understanding on my part? It is the will of God for me to speak to all of my trials and command them to depart? Or is it true that even when I walk by faith, God will still often allows trials to come upon me, for my good? Does God ever use my trials and tribulations as tools to develop me spiritually? Will God allow those who trust and obey Him to go through and endure suffering, especially if it's for a long duration??
2. Tribulations?— Once God saves me, should I expect to encounter tribulations, or is it a lack of faith to do so? Should I decree that no hurt or harm will come upon me? Is God best glorified by the tribulations I endure and keep the faith, or the tribulations I trust him and come out of?
3. Financial prosperity?— Once I am saved does this means that I should now expect to become wealthy? Is financial prosperity one of the benefits of salvation, for every believer? Should I now decree by faith, that I will have the best and biggest this world has to offer? Is it a lack of faith, if I’m content with an average income, car, and home. Does being saved and poor (having enough but not much over) dishonor God?
4. Carrying one’s cross?— Jesus said if I wanted to follow him, I would have take up my cross and follow him. I know during the time of Christ, the cross represented, pain, suffering , and death, is Jesus telling me to expect the same. If Jesus endured, pain, suffering, and death, on my behalf, is it true that his work on the cross exempts me from having to endure such hardship?
5. Sickness?— Because of Adam’s sin, sickness in all of it’s many forms, was part of the curse which was passed on to mankind. When Jesus died on the cross, he defeated Satan and redeemed the believers from the curse. I am told that I should say, “by his stripes I’m already healed.” Am I to walk in perfect health, and if I don’t does this dishonor God?
6. A proper confession of faith?– Am I to refuse to accept any manner of lack, suffering and trials. Am I supposed to speak to any and all trials and expect for them to go when I tell them to?
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